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Verbal Aikido goes global (September 6th 2013)

The UN suggests that there are 196 nations on our planet, and the conflict transformation solutions proposed with Verbal Aikido have been discovered in 105 so far! With close to 1000 visitors a month since the site began just over 3 months ago… well, a picture is worth a thousand words…

Verbal Aikido Globe Sept 2013

Well OK, here are the words that go with the pic 😉
Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan,
Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burundi,
Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic,
Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic,
Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia,
Fiji, Finland, France,
Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece
India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast,
Jamaica, Japan,
Kazakhstan, Kenya,
Lebanon, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg,
Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma),
Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway,
Pakistan, Palestinian State, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal,
Romania, Russian Federation,
Saint Lucia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland,
Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey,
Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay,
Venezuela, Vietnam,
Zambia, Zimbabwe.

I must admit, I’m both surprised and impressed at the reach Verbal Aikido has had in such a short period! In any case, there are so many organizations around the world actively working towards peace and conflict transformation, there’s got to be something that works for you, somewhere, whoever you are!

To continue with the global theme, Volume 1 (already available in English and French) is presently being translated into Spanish. We’re also now providing you with a list of contact details for over 100 peace initiative organizations from around the world – the latest addition to our resources. I hope you find at least one that works for you!

Peace out



“What I just don’t get…” (September 2nd 2013)

A new season of Verbal Aikido is beginning, so to get you back into practice, here’s a little ‘move’ you can try in response to the subtle attacks that begin with “What I just don’t get…”.

Of course, you will only perceive it as an attack if what follows clashes with your values, actions or identity in some way. For example, replace the [X]s below with the most incisive word(s) you can think of until you find the ‘attack‘ that could trigger a justification, or counter-attack response within yourself.:

  • I just don’t understand how you can be so [X] all the time!
  • What I just don’t get is how come these/you [ethnic group] are always [X]!
  • It’s just beyond me how you can afford to [X]!

You may get an opportunity to practice with this sooner than you think! So Aikidoists, instead of reacting as you may have in the past, how about recognizing this statement as an invitation by the speaker to enlarge his or her understanding. Even though it may not be the case, a simple Irimi like “[…] Well, (what) would you like to understand?” can bring you one step closer to reaching that all-important balanced outcome. See 50 ways to dodge a verbal bullet for more ideas!

Indeed, as with certain questions, a statement that begins with “what I just don’t get…” is often not searching for a greater understanding at all. But in any case, using this technique (a form of ‘high-road analysis’) can be particularly effective. Remember, maintaining your Inner Smile and sincerity in the questions, you’ll notice a rapid destabilization, giving you enough space to propose an appropriate Ai-ki to transform the conflict!

In other news, evening classes will be starting up again soon, but not before Verbal Aikido goes to TEDx La Rochelle on October 5th, woohoo!!!  (you can like the Facebook page here). Let me know if you’re interested in either making the trip to La Rochelle, or coming to the new season of evening classes.

In the meantime, here’s Jo Berry’s particularly moving TED Talk about how empathy can be used to disarm – most definitely worth a listen!

Blog you soon, peace out!



“The element of surprise” (August 22nd 2013)

A student recently confided in me that she had just been in argument and forgot to apply what she had learned in the Verbal Aikido workshops. “And do you think that it never happens to me?” I replied.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it elsewhere on this site, but Ueshiba – O Sensei of martial aikido, told that he also got destabilized on the tatami, but the most important thing was to return to his ‘center’ quickly, or even imperceptibly…

Indeed, it is not because someone has been doing a martial art for years that they will come out of any attack unscathed, especially not the unexpected ones! Anyone can easily become distracted, tired or be in any number of other states that cause our means of defense to be caught off-guard – whether it be from a physical or an emotional attack!  So what’s the point in doing any sort of self-defense? Well I think it’s a fellow aikidoka from my dojo that explains it best: “It’s when we actually regain consciousness of what’s going on that it’s worthwhile … Once we do, we’re in a much better position to manage what follows – and that’s what really counts! ”

So if you haven’t already done so, how about checking out our article on how to interrupt reactions? Otherwise, I can simply encourage you to make the effort to become aware of the amount of time you need to return to your ‘center’ or your ‘Inner Smile‘ after the next time you get destabilized! On your marks… 😉
Peace out



June 28th 2013

Hello Verbal Aikido bloggers.

After a short absence we’re back and in no small way. The biggest news for many is that the French version of Verbal Aikido (L’Aïkido Verbal : La ceinture verte) is now available for Kindle and will be available in paper format in the coming weeks. So you will now be able to manage bilingual verbal attacks!

Upon finishing this translation, one of my helping-hands mentioned that she came across a blog on the internet, where there was a criticism of Verbal Aikido. She hadn’t noticed that I’d already replied, using, of course the Three steps. If your French is good enough, do check it out for a demonstration of how Verbal Aikido can be used in a written context!

You may notice that the violence emanating from verbal attacks such as these are so revealing of the attacker’s own life experiences, and reflect either what they feel about themselves or how others have treated them… again other times its just a need for attention. So how do you deal with insults and name-calling? We’ve had many humourous examples of responses that destabilize the attacker on the virtual tatami, but my favourite one has to be:

Attacker: “You’re such an idiot!”

Aikidoist: “What sort of idiot do you mean? There are so many types!”

Humour aside, I think Marshall Rosenberg gives a great explanation of using empathy to deal with name-calling. Definitely worth a watch 🙂

Blog you soon

Peace out




June 7th 2013

Hello bloggers,
I was chatting to one of last year’s green belters recently, and happened to mention how I disliked being late for my martial aikido training, as it meant I missed the warm-up. You probably know what I mean, missing that initial part of the class just increases the risk of having muscle pains (or worse!) when it’s finished. The green-belt Aikidoist immediately made a correlation with Verbal Aikido and was interested in doing some ‘verbal warm-up’ exercises!

Indeed, just as the martial aikido practioner will flex muscles and twist articulations, Aikidoists are advised to warm up and stretch their ‘articulation’, and you, yes you, can do so now with these useful demonstrations of verbal stretching. The themes of selfishness, hypocrisy and manipulation therein may seem a little ‘negative’, so just remember that the objective is to prepare the practitioner for attacks.

Of course, in the interest of “creating more of what you focus on”, a similar form of verbal development is also recommended, but with words of a ‘positive’ connotation, such as empathy, compassion, illumination, altruism, etc. The more you focus your attention on these concepts, and your capacity to develop how you ‘articulate’ them, the more you will see them appear in your daily life. This article about Protected Empathy may get you started on the right tracks; your contributions and comments are most welcome! You can also check out the new superhero ‘Empathman’ humourously created by Matt Harvey…

So it’s been a busy week, and there’s much to show for it! You can now:

But before anything – don’t forget to stretch!

Blog you soon

Peace out




May 31st 2013

Hello all,

It’s been 2 months exactly since “Verbal Aikido, Volume 1 : Green Belt” appeared on Amazon, and with over a hundred sales online already, it has finally found its way to bookshops!  Amazon tells me that it takes 8 weeks for it to be available through “expanded distribution” and I received a notification that somewhere, some bookshop has bought a bulk of copies. I wish I knew who!!

Well, the English version of this blog is a little behind the French one, so if you need to brush up on your French, you may have missed the content of the first two articles…Here’s a summary of them.

Thanks to Nicolas and Nabil for their patience and contributions towards getting this site up and running. LinkedIn has been a vital resource, and I’ve had some great feedback on my articles and hooked up with some fabulous people, thanks to it.

Here’s a fun demonstration of how to use aikido in everyday life, taken from  the film ‘Shaolin Soccer’…

Got a nice text message this week from one of the novice Aikidoists, telling me how she was able to maintain her Inner Smile throughout a conversation with her mother-in-law, which resulted in a peaceful outcome… Hmmm, anyone else need Verbal Aikido for their mother-in-laws???

Well indeed, the Inner Smile is one of those things that everyone has their own name for, be it ‘neutral’, ‘centered’, or ‘mindfulness’ etc. And O Sensei is quoted as saying that even he got destabilized, but that he managed to return to his ‘center’ so quickly that it was imperceptible. Aside from the various techniques to discover, maintain and return to this state covered in the articles, do you have any more??

Watching the film ‘Thrive’ I picked up a nice quote “Conflict is healthy – it’s unresolved conflict that leads to violence” and I’d highly recommend the explanation of Aikido @ 2:01:23 in the film. And here’s an interesting view of the link between sounds and aikido

Now go have your best weekend ever!


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